by Raymond Beredo
Willis Quincy Browne (Brown) was born on February 6, 1885 to parents Miles Brown and Sarah Smith. His father, Miles served in the Army’s 38th Infantry during the Civil War, starting in 1864 and was discharged in 1865 as a Private. After leaving, he remained in Norfolk and settled his family there.
Willis has an older sister named Hattie Waldon. She remained in Norfolk for most of her life, marrying, and living there. According to Willis’ records, unlike his sister, he was single for the entirety of his life. It is confirmed that Willis was in Norfolk till at least 1897.
Not much is known about his whereabouts nor what life was like but he was educated, went to public schools early in his life and attended college in Ann Arbor. In his later years, he moved to Chelsea, Massachusetts. On July 15, 1918, Browne enlisted in the United States Navy Reserves as a Warrant Officer’s Cook. His time served was short. On August 26, 1918, Willis died from a malignant tumor at the Naval Hospital in Chelsea. On August 27, 1918 he was buried in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia.
A few years later, his niece, Sarah Evelyn Perry signed off his service record, confirming information about his religion and his academic past.. To this day, his reasoning for venturing north remains unknown.